Community Electric Vehicles

Questions Answered: What Happens to the Batteries in Electric Vehicles?

Have you ever wondered how long the batteries in electric vehicles (EVs) last and what happens to them after they reach the end of their usable lifespan for driving? According to Consumer Reports, well-cared for EV batteries last about 200,000 miles on average.  If you purchased a new EV and drove 12,000 miles a year – the average distance Americans drive – that would be 16 years into your car ownership.  And rest assured that there are resale, reuse and recycle options that will keep your EV’s battery out of a landfill, for example:

  1. Reselling your EV as a used car
    • Over time, an EV battery will degrade slowly, lowering the range that can be driven on a full charge. For many people who only drive 30-40 miles a day though, a used EV with lower capacity might be perfect. The used car market is booming and EVs can live long lives, so even if you’re ready for an upgrade, your EV can continue on with a new owner.
  2. Supporting the grid as energy storage
    • EV batteries have a lot of life left in them, even after their road usability is over. One use of that remaining life is as backup energy storage for the electric grid. A new Applied Energy report shows that ex-EV batteries could have useful and profitable second lives as backup storage for large scale solar installations, for example.
  3. Recycling your battery
    • EV batteries can be recycled into their original mineral components and repurposed into new batteries. Besides the obvious environmental benefits, battery recycling provides financial benefit too, and helps drive toward a “circular economy.” Battery recycling is essential to lowering the cost of battery development and solidifying the EV supply chain, making it a focal point for many automakers as they increase the number of EVs they produce.

If sustainability is your mission, an EV is a perfect choice for you, and there are options to ensure that its battery will be used to its maximum potential and then recycled.  At various stages of its useful life, that may mean your EV going to a new home when you want an upgrade, the battery being taken out and used for energy storage, or its raw materials being responsibly recycled.  The battery recycling industry is growing every day and EV automakers are committed to developing the best end-of-life options for EV battery materials.